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Standard ML Compiler of New Jersey
Beta 1 Release, November 2, 1987

This is the first unofficial beta release of the new Standard ML compiler,
also known as "Standard ML of New Jersey".  Subsequent versions are expected
to come out on a roughly monthly basis, i.e. at the end of November and the
end of December.  We hope that the January release will be the first
general, non-test, release.  Of course, bug-reports, comments, and
constructive criticism are eagerly sought.  Send comments and bug reports to

   David MacQueen
   Room 2C-322
   AT&T Bell Laboratories
   Murray Hill, NJ 07974
   USA
   Phone: 201-582-7691
   Net: macqueen%btl@relay.cs.net or macqueen@research.att.com

Instructions for installing and booting the compiler are in the file
INSTALL.

This version is basically functional, but it has a number of cosmetic
deficiencies and missing features.  See the file VERSION for
information about some known bugs and incomplete or missing features.
Notable omissions are sharing and weak polymorphic types for
references and exceptions.  Because of this the type system is
actually insecure, though if only monomorphic reference and exception
types are used there will be no problems.  By the November version,
sharing will be working and the type checker will have been largely
rewritten to include weak variables.  Equality types are not yet implemented,
though the interim implementation of equality will allow code using equality
types to work (equality is polymorphic, and raises an exception when it
is given bad arguments).  Abstype is implemented by a temporary kludge
that causes some anomalies in printing.

The exception syntax has changed to the new form (exceptions as
constructors).  The old syntax is still accepted, but when using the old
syntax the keywords "exception", "raise", and "handle" must be changed to
"exceptionx", "raisex", and "handlex".

Functors take a single named structure parameter in this version.  The next
version will also accept the alternative syntax (in which the parameter has
the form of a structure body).

Selectors are implemented.  The hash sign (#) is a keyword symbol that
combines with a label immediately following it to denote a selector; e.g.
"# a" or "#a" or "#2".  There is no special lexical class of sharped symbols.

The pervasive environment defined in the file boot/perv.sml is fairly
complete.  There are a couple of differences from the specifications in the
last edition of the Standard ML report, and a number of new functions.  The
function "use" takes a simple string as argument (the old version can be defined
as "app use").  There is an infix operator called "before" that acts like a
binary, left-associative PROG1 (or alternatively as an uncurried,
call-by-value K combinator)--it evaluates its two arguments and returns the
value of the first. (There is some disagreement about the name "before"--I
now think "after" would be better.  Any other suggestions would be welcome.)
There is a built-in, pervasive datatype called option defined by

  datatype 'a option = NONE | SOME of 'a

The names of the components of the structure Byte_array are unfortunate.
I would prefer that they parallel the names used in Array as closely as
possible.  In this version, Byte_array is open in the pervasive environment,
but it probably should not be.

root@smlnj-gforge.cs.uchicago.edu
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